Tag Archives: Blog Tours

Pump Up Your Book Announces Letitia Fairbanks’ ‘Princess April Morning-Glory Virtual Blog Tour’

What kind of a world would you create, if you had to do three good deeds to make it home again? The answer to that crucial question, as given by the title character in Letitia Fairbanks’s charming fairy tale, PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY, tells a unique and captivating story. Although she lives a fabled life in a paradise called Fairyland, the princess makes a fateful decision to step outside of her cloistered existence to face the outside world and all of its Princess April Morning-Glory long bannertemptations. Once outside The Enchanted Forest, the princess longs to return home, but she is told by a benevolent wizard that she must first do three good deeds. She follows his sage advice and starts her journey home, performing three good deeds, peerless in the annals of fairy tales. But along the way, Princess April is tempted by the wicked Fairy Misery with the promise of riches and fabulous fairy wings if she remains in the outside world and does Misery’s bidding. Which life will Princess April choose?

For its writing, beautiful illustrations, and moral weight, PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY — written and illustrated by Letitia Fairbanks over seven decades ago — can be compared to such classics as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s THE LITTLE PRINCE and Walt Disney’s classic film FANTASIA.

 

PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY also comes with a fascinating history. Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of the fabled silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. When she was a little girl, Letitia’s family moved to Hollywood from Utah after Douglas Fairbanks

appointed his brother Robert, Letitia’s father, to be the production manager of United Artists, the film company formed by Fairbanks, Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith.

Letitia, who was born in 1913, spent much of her childhood through early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford, where she was surrounded by the luminaries of the time. When she started writing and illustrating PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY in her twenties as a homage to her recently-deceased uncle, Letitia derived inspiration for the illustrations from then-current Hollywood blockbuster films, as well as deriving her portraiture from a composite of that era’s celluloid legends, along with immediate family members including her mother, father and sister, Lucile. The book was first copyrighted in 1941 and has not seen the light of day since.

Princess April Morning-Glory banner

Despite the book’s glamorous provenance, it’s the story, detailed imagery, and moral framework of PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY that make it special, says Kelley Smoot Garrett, Letitia’s stepdaughter and the successor trustee of the Ella Letitia Fairbanks Smoot Family Trust. Kelley, born in Texas and raised in New York City, holds a bachelor of science in geological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a consulting petroleum geologist from 1983-1995. She currently works in Austin as a business analyst/project manager for hi-tech companies.

Following the painstaking digital restoration of the original artwork by Kelley’s husband, Danny Garrett, who, like Letitia, is an artist, Kelley has been collaborating with Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, the granddaughter of Letitia Fairbanks and Kelley’s step-niece, to publish the long-lost manuscript. Amanda is a graduate of Smith College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and the Huffington Post.

PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY’S theme of, “you create your own destiny from the three good deeds you choose to do,” Kelley says, gives the book the potential to become a modern classic for all ages.

About The Author, Letitia Fairbanks

Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of the fabled silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. Born in 1913, Letitia spent much of her childhood and early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford. When she started writing and illustrating PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY, in her twenties, as a homage to her recently-deceased uncle, Letitia used an ensemble of current celluloid legends as inspirations for her illustrations. The book was first copyrighted in 1941 and has not seen the light of day since.

In honor of Letitia, Kelley Smoot Garrett is sending Letitia Fairbanks’ children’s book, Princess April Morning-Glory on a virtual book tour February 4 – April 26 and is giving everyone a chance to win a free Kindle Fire HD!  If you would like to follow her tour or enter the giveaway, visit her tour page at Pump Up Your Book by clicking HERE.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion & publicity for authors.

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A Conversation with ‘Saving Grace’ Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Pamela Fagan HutchinsPamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.

Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.

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Saving GraceQ: Thank you for this interview, Pamela. Can you tell us what your latest book, Saving Grace, is all about?

Thank you! Saving Grace is the story of Katie Connell, a Texas attorney whose life is one train wreck after another: too many Bloody Marys, a client who’s the Vanilla Ice of the NBA, and a thing for a Heathcliff-like co-worker. She takes refuge from it all on the island of St. Marcos, where she plans to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

First, there’s Katie. Oh, Katie, Katie, Katie. She’s the main character, a 30-something lawyer who vacuums her rugs backwards and is as much a danger to herself as the bad guys.

Nick is the object of her unreturned affections, an investigator in Dallas with a penchant for surf boards and bass guitars.

Ava is an island seductress who convinces Katie to become her new best friend and a second for her vocal duo.

Rashidi John befriends Katie when he introduces her to the jumbie house Annalise on one of his popular-with-the-ladies rainforest botany tours.

And then there’s Annalise, a giant abandoned house in the rainforest who shows her magical side to a chosen few, and, boy does she ever choose Katie.

Q: Do you ten­d to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I steal most of my characters from people whose big imprints on life inspire my creativity. But if fiction is life without the boring parts, my fictional characters are those people without them either. Their fictional bads are badder and their crazies are crazier.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I am a planner and a plotter, but the novel takes me wherever it ultimately wants to go. Kind of like my kids do, in real life. In Saving Grace, a character named Zane McMillan shows up who wreaked havoc on my carefully constructed outline. I had a heck of a time keeping him from hijacking the whole book. I love it when that happens.

Q: Your book is set in the Virgin Islands.  Can you tell us why you chose this area in particular?

The islands are magical. I lived on St. Croix for six years, and the people and the places just burned into my brain and my heart. I had no choice in the matter: Saving Grace set itself there.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The island setting, and the rainforest jumbie house Annalise in particular, are pivotal to the story. In the islands, Katie can embrace the magic in herself and the world around her, whereas she is much too pragmatic for that kind of nonsense back in Texas.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Katie is throwing caution and common sense to the wind and is about to make an offer to purchase a half-finished abandoned house in the rainforest because she believes she and the jumbie spirit offer each other a chance at mutual salvation.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Sure, here’s one I really like:

We had hiked for nearly two hours when Rashidi gave us a hydration break and announced that we were nearing the turnaround point, which would be a special treat: a modern ruin. As we leaned on smooth kapok trees and sucked on our Lululemon water bottles, Rashidi explained that a bad man, a thief, had built a beautiful mansion in paradise ten years before, named her Annalise, and then left her forsaken and half-complete. No one had ever finished her and the rainforest had moved fast to claim her. Wild horses roamed her halls, colonies of bats filled her eaves, and who knows what lived below her in the depths of her cisterns. We would eat our lunch there, then turn back for the hike down.

When the forest parted to reveal Annalise, we all drew in a breath. She was amazing: tall, austere, and a bit frightening. Our group tensed with anticipation. It was like the first day of the annual Parade of Homes, where people stood in lines for the chance to tour the crème de la crème of Dallas real estate, except way better. We were visiting a mysterious mansion with a romantic history in a tropical rainforest. Ooh là là.

Graceful flamboyant trees, fragrant white-flowered frangipanis, and grand pillars marked the entrance to her gateless drive. On each side of the overgrown road, Rashidi pointed out papaya stalks, soursop, and mahogany trees. The fragrance was pungent, the air drunk with fermenting mangos and ripening guava, all subtly undercut by the aroma of bay leaves. It was a surreal orchard, its orphaned fruit unpicked, the air heavy and still, bees and insects the only thing stirring besides our band of turistas. Overhead, the branches met in the middle of the road and were covered in the trailing pink flowers I’d admired the day before, which Rashidi called pink trumpet vines. The sun shone through the canopy in narrow beams and lit our dim path.

A young woman in historic slave garb was standing on the front steps, peering at us from under the hand that shaded her eyes, her gingham skirt whipping in the breeze. She looked familiar. As we came closer, she turned and walked back inside. I turned to ask Rashidi if we were going to tour the inside of the house, but he was talking to a skeletally thin New Yorker who wanted details on the mileage and elevation gain of our hike for her Garmin.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I’m in a perpetual state of writer’s block, or recovery from it. The first thing I do when I feel it coming on is change locations or go outside. If I can’t nip it in the bud, I talk it out with my husband/muse. If it persists, I force myself to write something else — anything to keep me writing. I am a big believer that creativity happens when you’re putting in the work. I had a huge episode of block while writing the sequel to Saving Grace. It took me two months of other writing before the block broke and I could get back to the islands.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’d love to say I’d run six miles or snuggle in the front of the fire with my husband, but it’s a lie. If I had an extra hour, I’d keep writing, but I’d at least play footsie (very vigorously) with him on the couch while I did it.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I had written Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, because of the characters: unforgettable, flawed, and larger than life. Gus and Woodrow, oh, how I love thee.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

More than ever, a fiction author must be fearless and relentless. The number of books published a year is growing exponentially, and you can’t just write yours and hope someone else will sell it for you. You need a marketing plan and an entrepreneurial spirit. It doesn’t hurt if you have a lot of support, too.

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Read-a-Chapter: Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery, women’s fiction, Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. Enjoy!

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Saving Grace

Click on cover to purchase at Amazon!

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Skipjack Publishing (September 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988234807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988234802

If you’re at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace.

Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

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Chapter One

Last year sucked, and this one was already worse.

Last year, when my parents died in an “accident” on their Caribbean vacation, I’d been working too hard to listen to my instincts, which were screaming “bullshit” so loud I almost went deaf in my third ear. I was preparing for the biggest case of my career, so I sort of had an excuse that worked for me as long as I showed up for happy hour, but the truth was, I was obsessed with the private investigator assigned to my case.

Nick. Almost-divorced Nick. My new co-worker Nick who sometimes sent out vibes that he wanted to rip my Ann Taylor blouse off with his teeth, when he wasn’t busy ignoring me.

But things had changed.

I’d just gotten the verdict back in my mega-trial, the Burnside wrongful termination case. My firm rarely took plaintiff cases, so I’d taken a big risk with this one—and won Mr. Burnside three million dollars, of which the firm got a third. That was the total opposite of suck.

After my coup at the Dallas courthouse, my paralegal Emily and I headed straight down I-20 to the hotel where our firm was on retreat in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is not on the top ten list for most company getaways, but our senior partner fancied himself a poker player, and loved Cajun food, jazz, and riverboat casinos. The retreat was a great excuse for Gino to indulge in a little Texas Hold ’Em between teambuilding and sensitivity sessions and still come off looking like a helluva guy, but it meant a three and a half hour drive each way. This wasn’t a problem for Emily and me. We bridged both the paralegal-to-attorney gap and the co-worker-to-friend gap with ease, largely because neither of us did Dallas-fancy very well. Or at all.

Emily and I hustled inside for check-in at the Eldorado.

“Do you want a map of the ghost tours?” the front desk clerk asked us, her polyglot Texan-Cajun-Southern accent making tours sound like “turs.”

“Why, thank you kindly, but no thanks,” Emily drawled. In the ten years since she’d left, she still hadn’t shaken Amarillo from her voice or given up barrel-racing horses.

I didn’t believe in hocus pocus, either, but I wasn’t a fan of casinos, which reeked of cigarette smoke and desperation. “Do y’all have karaoke or anything else but casinos onsite?”

“Yes, ma’am, we have a rooftop bar with karaoke, pool tables, and that kind of thing.” The girl swiped at her bangs, then swung her head to put them back in the same place they’d been.

“That sounds more like it,” I said to Emily.

“Karaoke,” she said. “Again.” She rolled her eyes. “Only if we can do tradesies halfway. I want to play blackjack.”

After we deposited our bags in our rooms and freshened up, talking to each other on our cell phones the whole time we were apart, we joined our group. All of our co-workers broke into applause as we entered the conference room. News of our victory had preceded us. We curtsied, and I used both arms to do a Vanna White toward Emily. She returned the favor.

“Where’s Nick?” I called out. “Come on up here.”

Nick had left the courtroom when the jury went out to deliberate, so he’d beaten us here. He stood up from a table on the far side of the room, but didn’t join us in front. I gave him a long distance Vanna White anyway.

The applause died down and some of my partners motioned for me to sit with them at a table near the entrance. I joined them and we all got to work writing a mission statement for the firm for the next fifteen minutes. Emily and I had arrived just in time for the first day’s sessions to end.

When we broke, the group stampeded from the hotel to the docked barge that housed the casino. In Louisiana, gambling is only legal “on the water” or on tribal land. On impulse, I walked to the elevator instead of the casino. Just before the doors closed, a hand jammed between them and they bounced apart, and I found myself headed up to the hotel rooms with none other than Nick Kovacs.

“So, Helen, you’re not a gambler either,” he said as the elevator doors closed.

My stomach flipped. Cheesy, yes, but when he was in a good mood, Nick called me Helen—as in Helen of Troy.

I had promised to meet Emily for early blackjack before late karaoke, but he didn’t need to know that. “I have the luck of the Irish,” I said. “Gambling is dangerous for me.”

He responded with dead silence. Each of us looked up, down, sideways, and anywhere but at each other, which was hard, since the elevator was mirrored above a gold handrail and wood paneling. There was a wee bit of tension in the air.

“I heard there’s a pool table at the hotel bar, though, and I’d be up for that,” I offered, throwing myself headlong into the void and holding my breath on the way down.

Dead silence again. Long, dead silence. The ground was going to hurt when I hit it.

Without making eye contact, Nick said, “OK, I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Did he really say he’d meet me there? Just the two of us? Out together? Oh my God, Katie, what have you done?

The elevator doors dinged, and we headed in opposite directions to our rooms. It was too late to back out now.

I moved in a daze. Hyperventilating. Pits sweating. Heart pounding. My outfit was all wrong, so I ditched the Ann Taylor for some jeans, a structured white blouse, and, yes, I admit it, a multi-colored Jessica Simpson handbag and her coordinating orange platform sandals. White works well against my long, wavy red hair, which I unclipped and finger-combed over my shoulders. Not very attorney-like, but that was the point. Besides, I didn’t even like being an attorney, so why would I want to look like one now?

Normally I am Katie Clean, but I settled on a quick brush of my teeth, a French shower, and lipstick. I considered calling Emily to tell her I was no-showing, but I knew she would understand when I explained later. I race-walked to the elevators and cursed them as they stopped on every other floor before the Rooftop Grotto.

Ding. Finally. I stopped to catch my breath. I counted to ten, took one last gulp for courage, and stepped under the dim lights above the stone-topped bar. I stood near a man whose masculinity I could feel pulsing from several feet away. Heat flamed in my cheeks. My engine raced. Just the man I’d come to see.

Nick was of Hungarian descent, and he had his gypsy ancestors to thank for his all-over darkness—eyes, hair, and skin—and sharp cheekbones. He had a muscular ranginess that I loved, but he wasn’t traditionally handsome. His nose was large-ish and crooked from being broken too many times. He’d once told me that a surfboard to the mouth had given him his snaggled front tooth. But he was gorgeous in an undefined way, and I often saw from the quick glances of other women that I wasn’t the only one in the room who noticed.

Now he noticed me. “Hi, Helen.”

“Hi, Paris,” I replied.

He snorted. “Oh, I am definitely not your Paris. Paris was a wimp.”

“Hmmmmm. Menelaus, then?”

“Um, beer.”

“I’m pretty sure there was no one named Beer in the story of Helen of Troy,” I said, sniffing in a faux-superior way.

Nick spoke to the bartender. “St. Pauli Girl.” He finally gave me the Nick grin, and the tension left over from our elevator ride disappeared. “Want one?”

I needed to gulp more than air for courage. “Amstel Light.”

Nick placed the order. The bartender handed Nick two beers beaded with moisture, then shook water from his hands. Nick handed mine to me and I wrapped a napkin around it, lining up the edges with the military precision I adored. Nick sang under his breath, his head bobbing side to side. Honky-tonk Woman.

“I think I like you better in Shreveport than Dallas,” I said.

“Thanks, I think. And I like seeing you happy. I guess it’s been a tough year for you, losing your parents and all. Here’s to that smile,” he said, holding his beer aloft toward me.

The toast almost stopped my heart. He was spot-on about the tough part, but I did better when I kept the subject of my parents buried with them. I clinked his bottle but couldn’t look at him while I did it. “Thanks, Nick, very much.”

“Want to play pool?” he asked.

“Let’s do it.”

I was giddy, the sophomore girl out with the senior quarterback. We both loved music, so we talked about genres, bands (his old band, Stingray, and “real” bands), my minor in music at Baylor, and LSD, AKA lead-singer disease. Over a bucket of beers, we swapped stories about high school, and he told me he’d once rescued an injured booby.

“An injured booby?” I asked. “Implants or natural? Eight ball in corner pocket.” I sank it.

He gathered the balls out of the pockets and positioned them in the rack while I ground my cue tip in blue chalk and blew off the excess. “You’re so land-locked. A booby is a bird, Katie.”

I rolled his use of my real name back and forth in my brain, enjoying how it felt.

“I was out surfing, and I found a booby that couldn’t fly. I carried it back home and took care of it until I could set it free.”

“Oh, my gosh! How bad did it smell? Did it peck you? I’ll bet your Mom was thrilled!” I talked fast, in endless exclamation points. Embarrassing. I was a Valley Girl on acid, like Oh-My-Gawd. “It was in shock, so it was calm, but every day it got wilder. I was fourteen, and my mom was happy I wasn’t in my room holding some girl’s real booby, so she was fine with it. It smelled really bad after a few days, though.”

I broke. Balls clacked and ricocheted in every direction, and a striped one tumbled into a side pocket. “Stripes,” I called. “So, your mom had caught you before holding a girl’s booby, huh?”

“Um, I didn’t say that . . .” he said, and stuttered to a stop.

I was more smitten than ever.

“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” was playing in the background. I hadn’t heard that song in years. It got me thinking. For months, I had been fighting off the urge to slip my arms around Nick’s neck and bite the back of it, but I was aware that most people would consider that inappropriate at work. Pretty small-minded of them, if you asked me. I eyed the large balcony outside the bar and thought that if I could just maneuver Nick out there, maybe I could make it happen.

My chances seemed good enough until one of our colleagues walked in. Tim was of counsel at the firm. “Of counsel” meant he was too old to be called an associate, but he wasn’t a rainmaker. Plus, he wore his pants pulled up an inch too high in the waist. The firm would never make him a partner. Nick and I locked eyes. Until now, we’d been two shortwave radios on the same channel, the signal crackling between us. But now the dial had turned to static and his eyes clouded over. He stiffened and moved subtly away from me.

He hailed Tim up. “Hey, Tim, over here.”

Tim waved to us and walked across the smoky bar. Everything moved in slow motion as he came closer, step by ponderous step. His feet echoed as they hit the floor, reverberating no . . . no . . . no . . . Or maybe I was saying it aloud. I couldn’t tell, but it made no difference.

“Hey, Tim, this is great. Grab a beer; let’s play some pool.”

Oh, please tell me Nick didn’t just invite Tim to hang out with us. He could have given him a short “hey how ya doing have a nice night I was just leaving” shpiel, or anything else for that matter, but no, he had asked Tim to join us.

Tim and Nick looked at me for affirmation.

I entertained a fleeting fantasy in which I executed a perfect side kick to Tim’s gut and he started rolling around on the floor with the dry heaves. What good were the thirteen years of karate my father had insisted on if I couldn’t use it at times like these? “Every woman should be able to defend herself, Katie,” Dad would say as he dropped me off at the dojo.

Maybe this wasn’t technically a physical self-defense moment, but Tim’s arrival had dashed my hopes for the whole neck-bite thing, and all that could have come after it. Wasn’t that reason enough?

I cast out the image. “Actually, Tim, why don’t you take over for me? I was in trial all week, and I’m exhausted. We have an early start tomorrow. It’s the last day of our retreat, the grande finale for the Hailey & Hart team.” I handed my pool cue to Tim.

Tim thought this was a fine idea. It was clear women scared him. If I had hoped for an argument from Nick, though, I didn’t get one. He reverted to his outside-of-work “Katie who?” act.

All I got from him was “Goodnight,” with neither a Helen nor a Katie tacked on.

I grabbed another Amstel Light from the bar for the plod back to my room.

Reprinted with permission from Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. © 2012 by Skipjack Publishing

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Read-a-Chapter: Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the erotica romance/romantic comedy, Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. Enjoy!

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Shuffle Up and Deal

    • Print Length: 427 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 145058859X
    • Publisher: Neon Fiction (March 3, 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Meet Izzy Santillo. She’s a charming-but-lonely thirty-four year old woman who loves poker and harbors a secret crush on the reigning king of Hold ‘em.

Meet Nick Nolan, the reigning king of Hold ‘em. On the tables, he’s fast and loose and almost always wins. But when it comes to women, playboy Nick holds his cards too close and always loses.

When Izzy and Nick meet in embarrassing fashion at a Las Vegas poker tournament, Izzy’s secret dreams turn into a public nightmare. But despite her humiliation, she may have finally sparked Nick’s interest in something other than cards. Before long, Nick takes a gamble on Izzy and raises the stakes when he offers to help her sharpen her game. But Izzy’s convinced that Nick is bluffing and will fold his hand after he’s had her on the flop. But a string of outrageous proposition bets and steamy trips on the poker tour, from Los Angeles to Miami, make these two fierce competitors realize that it may be time to put all their chips on the table. Will Izzy and Nick pair up? Or will they lose it all if they go all-in for each other? Sit down, ante up, and hang on, as Nick and Izzy get ready to Shuffle Up and Deal.

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Chapter One

“Izzy,” he whispers in my ear as he nudges me from behind.  It’s gentle, but I was in a deep sleep, so I’m groggy and slow to respond.

I had forgotten he was even here.  My boyfriend du-jour.  It’s an on and off relationship that, for tonight at least, is on.

He pushes his body closer, spooning me, wrapping an arm around my waist.  His breath is warm and sultry in my ear.  His erection is pressed against my thigh.  “You awake, Iz?”

“Mmm,” I mumble, slowly swimming back up from the depths of sleep to regain conscious thought.
His hand moves under the covers, caresses the front of my thigh and starts pulling up my nightgown.  His hand is sure and soft, the fabric silky as it glides across my skin.  “Wake up,” he urges as his hand moves back down, between my legs.

“Sleepy,” I murmur.  I could easily go back to sleep.  But the sad fact is that since we’re more “off” than “on,” I really don’t get much fun in the sack, so I’m happy to forego sleep for sex tonight.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” he says as he gently but firmly coaxes my thighs apart.  I’m mostly awake, but still hovering on the brink, too lazy to engage with him, but also lacking the will to resist, mostly just content to wait a few seconds and see if I’ll wake up enough or doze back off.  He moves back from me slightly, his hand holding my inner thigh, leveraging to pull that leg back as he agilely shimmies himself between my legs and rolls me on my back.  He’s warm and I like the weight of him on top of me, the warmth of his groin pressed against mine.  Awake enough now that I could engage, I still play it lazy and just sigh and keep my eyes closed.

“I know you’re awake,” he says, calling my bluff.  He kisses the side of my cheek, uses one elbow for support as he reaches between us to tug at my nightgown again.  Quickly, it’s up over my hips, so we’re skin on skin contact below the waist.  I grin, realizing he must not have just rolled over and started in on me.  He must’ve been horny enough and taken the time to pull off his boxers and pull on the condom before waking me up.

I decide to tease him a bit for it.  Asking, “What would you have done if I hadn’t woken up?”  What I’m hoping for is a little bit of dirty talk.

“I knew you were awake,” is all he says as he goes for the top of my nightgown, pushing the skinny strap to the side and then gliding his whole hand beneath the silk to cup my breast.  He gives a firm squeeze as the heat of his palm makes my nipple react as I keep my eyes closed in blind surrender, heightening the other sensations.  As my nipple hardens, he rubs and squeezes again, grinds his hips to press his erection right up against me.

A sigh escapes me.

“You ready?” he asks me.

“Doubtful.”

He goes to work kissing me.  He really is an excellent kisser.  He slips me some tongue as his fingers playfully pinch around my nipple.  He slides down, kisses my neck, warming me inside and out.

I’m getting tuned up, definitely.  Flushed skin, those wonderful quivery feelings running through my blood as he dips down and catches my nipple in his mouth.  No fooling around taunting me, he sucks.  And sucks.  It rocks me.

Taking a breath, he asks me again, “You ready?”
Eyes still closed, reveling in the dreaminess mixing with the rushes, I say, “Go ahead and check.”  That’s what I’m longing for now, for his hand to reach down and stroke me, build the heat right there.

But he declines.  Instead answering, “You’re ready.”  He scootches back up, reaching down and taking hold of himself instead of pleasuring me.  His skin is fevered, his shoulders taut under my hands, and already there’s a trace of humidity and salt in the air between us.  Though I can’t see it, I can feel his hand moving as he strokes himself a few times.  It drives me crazy with heat and I lift my hips in offering.

Wordless, he aligns himself and thrusts inside of me.  I was ready, and he glides in, filling me up, making me sigh again.

“Good to go?” he asks as he pumps a few times.

“Go,” I tell him, pulling his shoulders down closer to me so I get the full heat of his body.

“Going,” he says, picking up the pace quickly.  He props himself on his elbows for more leverage so I release his shoulders and raise my knees, wrapping my legs around his waist.  “Going harder,” he tells me as he pumps more furiously.

I still don’t open my eyes, instead reveling in the physical sensations and conjuring images of what we look like.  Hot.  We look hot.  It feels so good, him jacking away inside me, the heat between us.  Instead of watching, I imagine Nick’s face this way.  I’m fantasizing about him watching me.  I can feel beads of sweat forming at my hairline, I know my mouth tightens and muscles twitch when he suddenly goes harder, quite hard, quite deep.

I moan and then bite my lower lip as he starts panting above me.  I can imagine his face perfectly like this.  His deep blue eyes staring rapt as he makes me react beneath his control.  His well chiseled jaw, his normally serene, unreadable face betraying him now.  There’s no way he’d be able to keep that mask in place as he drives into me with power, as I clench tight around him and thrust back against him.

“Izzy,” he pants.

“Keep going,” I encourage him, but I can tell this late-night round won’t last much longer because he’s straining and panting, giving it to me with all he’s got.  So I take matters into my own hands.  I reach between us, the heat palpable to my hand, and slide a few fingers across my clit.  No fooling around, I press hard and rub furiously, already sensitive and responding.

“So hot,” he says, and I know he’s watching me.  He barely loses a pump but I know he’s watching me work myself into a frenzy beneath him.

God, imagining Nick watching me and getting off on it just prods me along.  Shameless, I’m utterly shameless about it.  I know just what he’d look like, hovering over me, his long, lanky frame, his buttocks clenching with each and every delicious pump.  His face betraying every ripple of intense pleasure.  “Oh,” I moan as I feel him tense, know he’s close.

I’m right on the edge, but I need a little more, just a little more time.  My hand strokes furiously, I buck against him.  “Keep going,” I plead with him.

“Close,” he says, and I know it’s my warning.

“Please.  Please!  Keep going,” I tell him again, setting myself on edge.  “Keep going, Nick!”

“Oh, no,” he grunts, then rasps my name.  Pained sounding, but still frantically pumping.

“Oh Nick!”

“No! Izzy!” he howls again, but his hips thrust, seemingly involuntarily.

“No,” I tell him, but I’m so close now it might not matter.  “Not yet, Nick!  Keep going!”

“Coming.” He says that quietly and the pumping stops, but my hand doesn’t.  Luckily, I’m there.  Just a couple more rough rubs and I erupt, coming with him still buried inside me, clenching around him, the mental image of his face watching me egging me on to milk every last aftershock.

Rapt in the hazy glow, I’m catching my breath as he pulls out and climbs off of me and rolls to the other side of the bed.  A harsh edge to his voice as he says, “You did it again.”

“Mmm?”  I ask distantly, still sprawled out and pleasantly holding my hand to crotch.

Over his shoulder, he hisses, “You said his name again!”

My eyes snap open and the glow evaporates.  Ashamed now, I close my legs and wiggle upright as I arrange the nightgown to hurriedly cover myself up.  Softly, I say, “I’m sorry.”  I reach out a hand but he moves away and sits up and gets off the bed.  He stalks over to the chair in the corner where his clothes are neatly folded and grabs his pants.

“Andy,” I say.  “Don’t go.  I really am sorry.”

“Hmph.  At least you do know my name.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“Silly!” He shouts it.  “You think it’s silly of me to be upset that my girlfriend called another man’s name while we were making love?”

I know he’s pissed, and I don’t blame him.  I feel guilty and deserve his anger.  And I will gladly grovel and make it up to him.  But right now it’s the middle of the night and I just want to defuse the situation, so I try to cajole him and lighten him up.  Coyly asking, “Would you rather I called his name while I was having sex with you?  Or would you rather I call your name while I have sex with him?”

He gives his shirt a snap in the air but doesn’t miss a beat.  Says, “That’s a flawed question, Isabella, and you know it.”

“Why?”

He does stop fiddling with his clothes as he looks at me and says, “It’s flawed because it’s unrealistic.  You can’t sleep with him.”

“I know!” I say cheerily.  “So it’s not like I’m cheating on you.”

Exasperated, “Please,” is all he says as he starts pulling the shirt on.  “I just don’t understand it.  You don’t even know this person.  What could you possibly be so attracted to?”

I know that this is not the place for me to respond honestly.  His tall, lanky body, his penetrating eyes, his beautiful little mouth, but, mostly, how incredibly sexy it is to watch him at the poker tables.  How, with just a glance, he can seemingly see and understand everything the other players are thinking.  And yet, I can never see the machinery in his mind working.  He’s completely unreadable.  Like the most glassy-surfaced lake that plunges to unknown depths.  All that intelligence and intuition are just…

Andy is staring at me, and I wonder if he can tell what I was just thinking about.  He looks cross. “You’re unbelievable,” he says, buttoning up.

Shit.  He could tell.

“Andy, please.  You’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  It was terrible of me and I’m so sorry.  But please don’t leave.  It’s the middle of the night and it’s cold and rainy out there.  Tomorrow is Easter!  Just come back to bed and I’ll make it up to you.”

He picks up his socks and shoes and takes a seat in the chair, but he stops dressing.  Says, “I just don’t even have a fundamental understanding of what you’re attracted to.  You don’t know him, Izzy!”

“I know,” I say with a shrug.  Then, “What attracts you to Jessica Simpson?”

“Stop it,” he says.  “There’s a basic difference between men and women and how we process attraction.  Men are visually stimulated.  Women intellectually.”

“Well, maybe I just have some male tendencies is all,” I say, lying.

“I don’t call out the name Jessica when we’re making love!”

“So you’d prefer I call out the name of someone I know, then?  Perhaps it’d be better if I’d fantasize about one of your friends?”

“Perhaps I’d prefer if you’d fantasize about me and call out my name!”

He’s got me there.  If I wanted to turn this around on him, I could start a real brawl by pointing out that it hasn’t escaped my attention how much attention he lavishes on Jennifer every time she’s around.  I could point out how I’ve caught him being visually stimulated by her while I was sitting right next to him.  But I don’t want to do that, because what I have done is wrong.  It’s not about winning this fight so much as about reassuring him and making it up to him.  I’ve hurt him.  Worse, maybe he’s worried because next week I’m going to Vegas, and there is a small chance I could run into Nick.

Realizing that, I feel even worse, and even somewhat flattered.  Maybe Andy’s just worried and jealous.  But I’d never cheat on him.  I just need to reassure him.  So I bite my tongue and measure my words and say, “Andy.  I am really sorry.  And you’re right about all this.  I promise I’ll stop thinking about him.  But for right now, you don’t need to worry anyhow.  Like you said, I don’t know him, so there’s no chance we’d ever be together.”

“Oh, don’t flatter yourself, Iz.”  With that, he starts pulling on his socks.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, darling, that even if you did know him, you wouldn’t be sleeping with him.”  He pauses to pull on a shoe, then looks me in the face as he says, “Don’t get your hopes about that trip to Vegas.  Sure, you might meet him.  But remember, men are stimulated visually, Iz.”

I drop my gaze and pull the blanket up to cover myself, twice as ashamed of myself now.  Andy’s right, of course.  That’s why the comment stings.  There’s nothing Nick Nolan would ever see in geeky me.

Across the room, Andy rises, and I realize how badly I’ve screwed up.  He’s a decent, good-looking, smart guy, and I’ve alienated him by not appreciating what I have.  Worse, I’ve hurt him.  “I’m really sorry,” I whisper.

“And do you really have to be so slutty all the time?”

“Sorry,” I say, knowing what he means.

“I know we’re familiar and all, and it’s hot in a pornographic way that you like to get off.  But you’re just so selfish and slutty about it.  It’s pretty off-putting afterward.”

“You woke me up,” I say.

“I woke you up.  You got yourself off, though.”

“Someone had to do it,” I mutter under my breath.

“You know, babe, you should try appreciating me more.  I’m a great guy, Izzy, and I’ve been good to you over the years.”

“I know,” I answer.

“Sweet dreams, Isabelle,” he hisses as he walks out the door.

But that just sparks my anger.  He knows I hate that.  I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.  “Isabella!” I shout after him, just before the back door slams shut.

I stew in it a minute.  I’m a shit, without question.  But he does oogle Jennifer in front of me. I flop back on the bed and close my eyes and indulge myself with visions of Nick Nolan.  Sweet dreams, indeed.

 

Reprinted with permission from Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. © 2010 by Neon Fiction

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Guest Blogger Lauren Carr: Ten Things About Lovers in Crime Mysteries You May Not Know

Ten Things About Lauren Carr’s Lovers in Crime Mysteries You May Not Know

By Lauren Carr, author of ‘Dead on Ice’

1)     The Lovers in Crime Mysteries take place in Chester, West Virginia, which is a real small town in the most northern point of West Virginia. In the Northern Panhandle, if you go a mile in any direction, you end up in another state (Pennsylvania or Ohio).

2)     Lauren Carr grew up in Chester, West Virginia. Many members of her family still live there.

Dead on Ice sm3)     Joshua Thornton’s stone house on Rock Spring Boulevard is a real three-story stone house that Lauren used to dream about living in when she grew up in Chester, West Virginia.

4)     Rock Spring Boulevard is a fictional street in Chester. Lauren Carr changed the name because she didn’t want people driving by and bothering the real homeowners.

5)     Irving, Cameron Gates’ cat, is based on Duchess, a Maine Coon that Lauren Carr used to have. Duchess was the reverse of a skunk, all white with a black stripe down her back. Irving is marked like a skunk, all black with a white stripe down his back.

6)     The real Hancock County prosecuting attorney’s office is located in the corner of an abandoned school house across the street from the courthouse, which is where Lauren Carr has placed Joshua’s office. Though now, with up to date technology, Joshua usually works remotely from his home.

7)     Cameron and Joshua’s passion for ice cream is based on Lauren’s own addiction. She has an ice cream sundae every night before going to bed.

8)     Cameron never gains a pound in spite of what or how much she eats—unlike Lauren Carr.

9)     Joshua and Cameron’s “place”, favorite hang-out, Cricksters, is a real retro diner located in Chester, West Virginia. The Home of the Pink Cadillac is located at 2363 Lincoln Highway. Lauren loves to visit there when she is in town.

10) The next Lovers in Crime Mystery, Real Murder, was inspired by a dream Lauren had while recovering from a concussion, which she got when she fell off a horse. Real Murder will be coming this Spring and is dedicated to Peter Pan, the horse Lauren fell off of.

————————————————————————-

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime.

Lauren CarrLauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. Lauren’s fifth mystery, Shades of Murder has been receiving rave reviews since its release.

Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, has just been released. Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.

She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit her websites at www.acornbookservices.com and www.mysterylady.net.

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Talking Books with Cynthia Gail, author of WINTER’S MAGIC

Please welcome my special guest, contemporary romance author, Cynthia Gail. Cynthia is here today to talk about her latest release just in time for Christmas, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).
My husband and I live in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with our teenage son and three dogs. Life is busy, but when I have free time, I love to read. A math/science girl at heart and a retail analyst by trade, I never thought I’d be writing romance. But one day, a story popped into my head and I had to write it down. The fantasy, escape, and wonder of just reading multiplied by ten-fold and I couldn’t stop my fingers from typing my own fairy tales.

I hope you enjoy my stories. Each one touches on modern day issues, fears, and challenges that women face every day. And each one illustrates that love is within reach if you let down those walls and allow your heart to open. Our lives and experiences are so much more meaningful when we have someone to share them with.

Cynthia’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Winter’s Magic (Book 1 in the Music City Hearts series).

Visit her website at www.Cynthiagail.com.

Why was writing Winter’s Magic so important to you?

Spring’s Surprise, now book #2 in the Music City Hearts series, was actually the first book I wrote. At the first draft stage, I hired an editor to give me feedback and direction. She suggested I take Beth’s character from book #2, create her own story, and plan a full series. I’d already fallen in love with writing, but the guidance and validation from a professional, award-winning author, stirred a deeper passion and I jumped right in.

What was the experience like writing Winter’s Magic?

It was so exciting to write with a purpose. I’m a planner at heart and I felt like I was finally on a path that I had confidence in. Beth is probably my favorite heroine in the series. She’s a strong woman, she’s worked hard to get where she is, and as a result, runs a successful, elite day spa. But even strong women have vulnerabilities. It’s how we face our weaknesses that counts and I think Beth handles adversity with a lot of grace and fortitude.

Can you tell us more about Beth Sergeant and Nick Chester?

Beth’s parents were middle-class, but found a way to send her to the most prestigious, private high school in Nashville, Tennessee. While the invaluable experience prepared her for college, she never felt as if she fit in.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. At the age of thirty, he’s built his own business and experienced enough of life to realize everyone has an agenda.

Despite her deep-seated insecurities, Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and finally accepts an invitation to dinner. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and she slowly learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

Sara and Jenny are Beth’s two best friends. Spring’s Surprise is Sara’s story and Summer’s Family Affair is Jenny’s.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

This is the end of a scene where Nick realizes how different Beth is from other women in his circle. Due to his family’s status, he’s constantly pursued by women looking for prestige and money. But Beth isn’t pursuing him and he can tell by her genuine interaction with his grandfather that she’s someone special he simply has to know more about.

What about page 65?

In a previous scene, Beth’s bank calls a surprise audit of her day spa’s construction expenses, based on allegations from an anonymous source. Nick offers to use his grandfather’s influence to get the audit dismissed, but Beth won’t let him. She has nothing to hide and doesn’t want to ‘use’ his connections. In the scene on page 65, Nick’s ex-girlfriend makes a surprise visit to his office. During the conversation, he realizes she’s the anonymous source. Though he’d promised Beth that he wouldn’t interfere, he can’t stop himself, and calls his grandfather.

Now that Winter’s Magic has been published, what’s your next project?

Spring’s Surprise is under contract and expected to release in March or April 2013. I’m just starting to work with the first draft of Summer’s Family Affair and I’m outlining Fall’s Redeeming Grace.

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s no surprise that my first book had to celebrate the season. I hope you enjoy Winter’s Magic as part of your holiday collection.

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A Conversation with Mark Spivak, author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History

Please welcome my special guest, Mark Spivak. Mark is here today to talk about his latest release, Iconic Spirits: An Mark Spivak smIntoxicating History.  Mark is an award-winning writer specializing in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post from 1994-1999, and since 2001 has been the Wine and Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, as well as the restaurant critic for Palm Beach Illustrated. His work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Ritz-Carlton, Continental, Art & Antiques, Newsmax, Dream of Italy and Arizona Highways. From 1999-2011 he hosted Uncorked! Radio, a highly successful wine talk show on the Palm Beach affiliate of National Public Radio.

Mark began writing Iconic Spirits after becoming fascinated with the untold stories behind the world’s greatest liquors. As a writer, he’s always searching for the unknown details that make his subjects compelling and unique.

Visit Mark’s website at http://www.iconicspirits.net.

Iconic SpiritsQ: Thank you for this interview, Mark. Can you tell us what your latest book, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, is all about?

I chronicle the untold tales of twelve spirits that changed the world and forged the cocktail culture. Some are categories and others are specific brands, but they’re all amazing stories—and stories that are unknown to the average reader.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for your book?

One day I was think about Campari, about how bitter it is and how unpleasant it is to some consumers (myself included), despite the fact that millions of cases are sold each year. I did some reading about the physiology of taste, and realized that the taste receptors on our tongues function as an early-warning system that we’re about to drink something toxic or poisonous. Your brain is telling you, “Don’t drink this—it might kill you,” and yet Campari is considered to be one of the sexiest things on earth. The more I looked into other spirits, I found the same kinds of compelling stories.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

There were a number of cases where I visited the distillery and spent two or three days with the producers. Not everyone wanted to give me that level of access, but fortunately there were other cases where I didn’t need it—for some spirits, I could accomplish the research by a combination of reading and telephone interviews.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

The most important message concerns entrepreneurship, the creation of something out of nothing. Many of the most famous and profitable spirits in the world sprang from the flash of an idea.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

The Triumph of the Bootleggers: Moonshine, Rumrunning and the Founding of NASCAR

Drive out of Winston-Salem, and the landscape turns rural very quickly. By the time you reach Wilkes County the soft, rippling hills have become higher and steeper, and the valleys are dotted with frame houses, farmland and working tractors.

Joe Michalek, the energetic and genial president of Piedmont Distillers, is at the wheel. It’s 6:30 a.m. and we’re driving out to have breakfast with Junior Johnson–driving on Junior Johnson Highway, in fact, an eight-mile stretch of U.S. Route 421 named for the famous race car driver. We ease off onto old 421, which used to be known as Bootlegger’s Highway. Sixty years ago there were nearly 400 stills in Wilkes County, and the roads here were dirt–“nothin’ more than cow pastures,” according to Junior. Bootleggers turned off their headlights at night to avoid detection, and navigated by the light of the moon.

Tom Wolfe called him “The Last American Hero.” The nickname stuck, and it became the title of a 1973 movie about his life, a Hollywood extravaganza starring Jeff Bridges. Robert Glenn Johnson Jr., known as Junior, was born in Wilkes County in 1931. He began running moonshine out of the hills at 14, using his dad’s rebuilt 1940 Ford. He became the fastest man on the dirt roads, the one bootlegger the law couldn’t catch. In time, he took his cars, his speed and his nerve onto the racetrack, and became one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.

Wolfe wrote at length about the legend of Junior Johnson in his breakout 1965 Esquire piece, but he also helped create it. Junior was already an idol throughout the South at that time, but was relatively unknown outside the region. The story captured him at the height of his racing career, and it also took the legend and burnished it so brightly that it became visible around the country.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

I had a great agent, which helped enormously. Even so, I think you need to have a subject which is timely and resonates with a large segment of the public. It helps to persevere, and luck also doesn’t hurt.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

I write at all hours of the day, but I find the early hours are best because there are no interruptions. If I can get up by 4 a.m., I’m likely to have nearly an entire day’s work done before people start calling or emailing.

Q: What’s next for you?

I’m sworn to secrecy, but the next project will undoubtedly be focused on spirits and the enjoyment of life.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Mark.  We wish you much success!

Many thanks.

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Interview with J.B. Miller, author of NO TIME FOR LOVE

00J.B. Miller is a published author of fiction, non-fiction, award-winning poetry, music, and numerous articles and blogs. No Time For Love is her first novel. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three children.

Visit her blog at http://notimeforlovebyjbmiller.wordpress.com.

Welcome to As the Pages Turn, J.B.!  Can you tell us more about your heroine, Chatham?

No Time for LoveJB: Chatham is the type of heroine that all women can relate to. She does her best to keep up with the demands of her family, her work and unfortunately, does not have enough time for herself. So many readers I talk to can relate to Chatham as though they are reading about themselves. She is today’s every day heroine.

The first chapter sets the tone for the whole book. Why did you decide to start it in the kitchen over waffles?

JB: I want the reader to identify with the heroine right away. I want her to be within reach. Every mother in the world lives a secret life of chaos that many will not even admit to, but when they read about Chatham’s life, they can settle right in alongside her.

The kids seem to be Chatham’s top priority and rightly so. What are her thoughts on dating?

JB: Dating is not even on the burner. She has fleeting wistful thoughts of love, but her everyday demands steal all of her time. I believe in love finding us when we least expect it and even in Chatham’s family centered world, love sneaks up on her.

Does Chatham believe in soul mates?

JB: Her husband was her soul mate and sadly, Chatham does not think that she will ever find another. She is wrong.

What does Chatham do for a living?

JB: Chatham works in advertising. In particular, she writes catchy slogans and jingles for advertising campaigns. She is quirky but relatable. There are a few creations she has come up with that I think should be real companies like Vatican Air – get there on angels wings.

What is Chatham’s favorite pastime?

JB: Sleeping is high on the list, but she doesn’t get much.

What do you believe is Chatham’s biggest obstacle?

JB: Chatham’s biggest obstacle is letting herself follow her heart when love finds her. If she can’t decide which love is for her, then how will she finally find true happiness? The reader will have to see where it all ends up.

That is such a fun cover. Who designed it?

JB:I enlisted a top graphic designer to create my vision. I wanted love and time to jump off the page. I think they do.

Is chick lit a new genre for you?

JB:I have written short stories in the genre and many award winning poems. One of my favorite poems is I Don’t Do Socks.

Thank you so much for this interview, JB. Do you have any final words?

JB:I wrote No Time For Love so that women everywhere can feel that the real person they are is understood. I want mothers to know that it’s OK to not always keep it all together. When the reader finishes the book, I want them to believe in true love.

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Interview with Kay Marshall Strom, author of ‘The Love of Divena’

Kay Marshall Strom

Kay Marshall Strom is the author of forty published books.  Her writing credits also include numerous magazine articles, short stories, curriculum, stories for children, two prize-winning screenplays, and booklets for writers.  Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, and special events throughout the country.  She and her husband Dan Kline love to travel, and more and more Kay’s writing and speaking take her around the word.

Her latest book is the Christian historical fiction, The Love of Divena.

To find out more about Kay, or for contact information, check her website at www.kaystrom.com.

Visit Kay at Twitter: http://twitter.com/kaysblab

Like Kay at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=251622274091&id=738699091#!/profile.php?id=738699091

Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Love-Divena-Blessings-India/dp/1426709102/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348760002&sr=8-1&keywords=the+love+of+divena

Pick up your copy of The Love of Divena at the publisher’s website: http://abingdonpress.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=7312

Q: Thank you for this interview, Kay. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Love of Divena, is all about?

The trilogy centers around an Untouchable family and the high caste landlords who own them. Set in rural India in 1990, this final book tells the story of a little girl abandoned by her father and left on the doorstep of her desperately poor grandmother. Practically every area of the grandmother’s life is bound up in the constraints of society: her outcaste status, her poverty, her religion. But Divena sees the promise of a wider world. The choices she makes rock the world of both families and shake the foundation of an entire culture.

The Love of Divena

The main character of each of the books in the trilogy has a name that means “blessing” in Hindi.  Hence the series title, Blessings in India. Divena, the main character in this book, loves her grandmother dearly, but she cannot accept the older woman’s resigned attitude of “This is how it has always been, and this is how it always will be.”  Adventurous and persistent—also desperate—Divena determines she will change her life.  She does, in ways her grandmother Shridula (book 2) and her great-grandfather Ashish (book 1) never could.

Divena’s grandmother is Shridula, the young mover and shaker of book 2 (The Hope of Shridula). But the years have weighed heavily on her. Trapped by poverty and her low status as a female outcaste, the spark of hope has long since faded away.  When she sees the scrawny waif left on her doorstep, she is overcome by memories. Yet she tells the child, “You did not want to be left in my doorway, and I did not want you left here because I have no money to buy food for you. But here you are, so we will live together.”  When she changes the girl’s name from Anjan (fear) to Divena (Blessing), she has no idea how prophetic that name is.

The other major character is the wealthy, educated young man being groomed to inherit his father’s land—and also his father’s village of bonded servants.  The family is Christian, though that means little to them beyond freedom from Hindu constraints. But the son is a far different person than his father. In his objection to his father’s oppression of the laborers, he is drawn back to his family’s true Christian roots where he finds more than he bargained for.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Without a doubt, characters are inspired by people I’ve met on my nine trips to India. There really was a little girl abandoned by her father and left on her unsuspecting grandfather’s doorstep.  I think this reality base is important for a book such as this because so many people find it absolutely unbelievable that such oppression and abuses are still around today.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Yes and yes. I write out a basic chapter outline before I begin, sort of like a map to where I’m going with the book. But as I write, things change.  Some events seem contrived, so I change them.  Or I drop them altogether. Characters get pushy and begin to go their own way, to get themselves into more difficulties than I anticipated.  Thanks to discoveries along the way, I end up with a better book than the one I plotted in the beginning.

Q: Your book is set in South India.  Can you tell us why you chose this place in particular?

Several years ago I had the opportunity to travel throughout Ireland with the advance team of the movie Amazing Grace. Sam Paul, a team member from India, spoke about modern day slavery as it exists there. It is the most prevalent cause of slavery today.  On the last day of our time together as a team, Sam Paul asked me, “Why don’t you write about my people?  We need someone to speak for us. Why don’t you write about us?”  So I did.  I chose to set the story in rural South India because that is an area in which I have spent quite a bit of time and where I know a number of people.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Absolutely. Without the setting, there would be no story.  The location—as well as the Indian society in which it is immersed—forms the only world in which the story could exist.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Oh, good spot!  Sixteen-year-old Divena has spent the past years trudging back and forth from the market with a basket of vegetables from her grandmother’s garden balanced on her head. In blistering heat and in monsoon rain. Lots of work for so few pennies earned.  Beckoned by the sweet fragrance of ripe mangos hanging on a tree, but warned by the tree’s owner not to touch them, Divena proposes a trade: some of her vegetables for a couple of mangos.  The woman drives a hard bargain, but the barter pulls Divena into a much wider world of possibilities. On Page 69, Divena makes her first foray into business.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Little Daniel stood up and scowled at his leaning block tower. “Not good!” he pronounced, and he kicked it over.  Joanna giggled and clapped her little hands.

“Would it not be wonderful if we could solve our problems so easily?” Ramesh asked with a laugh.  “If all of India could?”

Baruch grabbed his son and pulled the child to him. As Daniel squirmed, Joanna climbed onto her father’s lap.  “Here it is, right in my grasp,” Baruch Sundar said as he hugged his children.  “New hope for India.”

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I have to say, I don’t believe in writer’s block.  I mean, what happens if a dentist gets dentist’s block?  He gets busy and works on teeth.  When I get writer’s block, I get busy and write.  It helps that I generally have a couple of projects going.  If I’m stuck on one, I work on the other.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Mmmmm, what a delightful thought!  I think I would head out to our hot tub/spa and read.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  I love the way C.S. Lewis wrote a book that works on so many different levels.  Eight-year-olds are transfixed with the tale of talking animals and witches, families read the book together for its moral values, and theology students take entire courses on it.  What a gift to be able to write a book like that!

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

It is a tough field today, with so many books out there. I would say, demonstrate your writing by blogging.  Offer to write guest posts for other bloggers.  Speak wherever you can—at the library, at service clubs, in your church or other associations—and always have your book on hand.  But remember, you must not come across sounding like an advertisement.  Your listeners will be asking, “What’s in this for me?”  What they want to hear from you is, “A wonderfully entertaining story, and even more.  Much, much more.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Kay.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for talking with me.

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The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Promote Your Book Online: I Choose the Wrong Way by Susan Wingate

The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Promote Your Book Online: I Choose the Wrong Way

By Susan Wingate

Of late, every time I teach at a writing conference, the program coordinators slate a workshop with a title something like this: How to Blog Effectively or The Art of Blogging. You get the idea. They have rules like: never blog without knowing the topic you’ll be discussing; and, try to blog in your niche. Words of wisdom for sure however if your niche is writing or more succinctly, novel writing, well every Johnny out there has a blog about it. It seems the blogging market for how-to-write has become glutted.

For me, blog writing is secondary to novel writing and so I use my blog to grease my creative and technical skills. I like humor too so I sort of play around when I blog. I get silly even.

For instance, I broke out in a huge full-body rash this past April and because this new development sent me on an adventure to the doctor, I decided to blog about it. Wise in the eyes of blogging experts? I dare say not. But did it get noticed? Oh. My. Yes. That one blog post brought the most visitors to my website in months. Since then, I post everything and anything that comes to mind. Sometimes these postings are about writing but I always add a bit of humor to them. People like to laugh, plain and simple. Today’s blog, July 2nd, tells about the time my husband called me a hermit. Of course, my husband, Bob gives me tons of great fodder for writing. He makes me laugh because he doesn’t understand me. This paradoxical relationship makes for great humor. We’re terribly in love with one another but, still, he’s a businessman and I’m an artist. The rift between these two mindsets can seem as deep as the Mariana Trench.

Anyway, I tend to believe that people like to laugh. Writing funny makes me laugh too. Maybe it doesn’t meet The Idiot’s Guide to Blogging but if everyone’s laughing then we all win. Right?

About the Author:

Most recently, Susan Wingate’s novels, SPIDER BRAINS and DROWNING each reached Amazon Bestseller status in 2012. DROWNING won the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama. She would love for you to read her books. You can find them all under the tab on this site labeled “Books”. SUSAN has written eleven novels, two short story collections, a few plays, one screenplay and tons of poems. Her latest 2011 novel DROWNING  (contemporary women’s fiction), won 1st place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award and also won a finalist award for the category of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit in the 2011 International Book Awards. A vibrant public speaker, Susan offers inspiring, motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing and marketing, and how to survive this extremely volatile (e-)Publishing industry. She presents these lectures for private groups and at writing conferences, libraries and bookstores around the country.

To get your copy of SPIDER BRAINS by Susan Wingate:http://www.amazon.com/Spider-Brains-Love-Story-ebook/dp/B007KDAS0C/ref=la_B003CMMERK_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1339336080&sr=1-6

To view all books by Susan Wingate: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Wingate/e/B003CMMERK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

To learn more about Susan, go to her website: http://www.susanwingate.com

Visit Susan Wingate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/susanwingate

Like Susan Wingate on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanwingate.author

Follow Susan Wingate on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/susanwingate/susan-wingate-s-books/

About the Book:

If one were to bake the story SPIDER BRAINS into a cake, they should sprinkle in Charlotte’s Web, toss in one Jellicle Cat, then stir in a little Spiderman—but as a girl and not in that goofy latex outfit! A tale of hope, transformation, transition and inspiration.

After her father’s death last year and, now, in the throes of a gnarly teacher’s whim as she thinks ahead to college (or really just dreams of getting into college), a small black arachnid bites fifteen-year-old Susie Speider on the finger. The bite sends her nights into fantastical dreams about taking revenge on a teacher who, ultimately, holds her college aspirations in the palm of her cold calloused hand. But, after Susie figures out the dreams are real, she ups the ante by visiting the teacher regularly… as the spider! And, oh, by the way! Who is that boy spider munching on flies, hiding over there in the corner? A story of loss and forgiveness, tolerance and kindness, Susie Speider deals with the death of her father while Matt Ryder–the new neighbor boy–has just lost his mother. Ultimately, SPIDER BRAINS poses some important questions about how to treat Attention-Deficit-Disorder.

 

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